High ‘flying’ label expert with ‘Modern’ outlook gives some gyan to upcoming label-printers

TENSION! STRESS! Many busy printing professionals fully grown in their business would find it difficult to have time for themselves, as they get bogged with their business, shooting troubles down, tackling the customers, visiting exhibitions, trying to work-out better economic solutions to customers or in tension when they lose a precious customer...the tale would continue like that. But Mumbai-based Rtn Shabbir Y Kachwalla, proprietor of Modern Enterprises, is one of those rare breed of printing professionals who go easy in their professional and business life. How and why? Discovers Shripada Bhat, a freelance print journalist. Modern Enterprises, manufacturers and exporters of a wide variety of pressure sensitive and self adhesive labels, with a capacity fire about 8,000 to 12,000 impressions per hour depending on the type of job. They have high speed 4-colour fully automatic label printing presses with in-built facility for lamination and online counting, packaging, silting equipment all placed on a 1,500 sq ft space at Lower Parel in Mumbai.

Today, the company caters to almost all industrial label requirements such as medical, pharma, banks, refinery, textile and other industries, with special focus on import substitution. The labels range include: sales and export promotion labels, labels for labs, colour changing labels, labels for toys, tools, furniture; satin labels, label within label. The company also offers pressure sensitive labels, pilferage proof self destructible labels (which destroys within when someone tries to scratch or peel it off), anti-counterfeit and tamper proof labels, security labels for banks. They also supply special effects labels, holograms, labels printed with non erasable ink, reflective effects stickers, label within label, etc.

In the past, they had also supplied to Govt of India various national campaign labels in mass quantity such as ‘mera bharat mahan’ stickers to mark 50 years of India’s freedom and 60 years’ celebrations. There are some companies and government bodies who are still their valued customers for the last 30 years.

Modern Enterprises is a winner of national and international recognitions for printing quality labels especially for its import substitute products including MICR labels for RBI and other banks. The company had also won the Gold Award (Transworld Tradefare Selection Award) conferred by the Institute of Self Defense & National Character in 1986 for the outstanding performance in the manufacture of pressure sensitive self adhesive labels.

By the way, Kachwalla finds time for numerous of non-business activities. He spends his time on Sundays and holidays in riding speed boats, flying on engineless craft, angling, fish surfing and of course travelling. He has two 8-seater boats which get vacation only during monsoon (just two months away), one at Gateway and another right at Shivaji Park, Dadar where he stays on a spacious flat, facing the sea and with picturesque Bandra-Worli Sea link. He was also a member of Pune flying club and now active in property investment.

He does not spend his spare time only for his personal entertainment. Kachwalla also finds time for some social service. He has supplied thousands of small colour code stickers with environment message printed on it (free of cost) like ‘Clean & Green Mumbai’, ‘Keep your country clean’. He has travelled extensively around the globe and had been the president of Malabar Hill Jaycees and the Rotary Club of Mid City. As a Rotarian he has also conducted seminars for school children on the world of printing. He also attands exhibitions and gets invites to address knowledge seeking printers.

As the surname suggests, Shabbir Kachwalla’s family was originally into glass manufacturing and was one of the pioneers in vehicle glass manufacturing. But, his father, a well known consulting physician and cardiologist, Dr Y Kachwalla, did not mind his son venturing into printing business but his only wish was that his son should stand best in whatever profession he takes up.

The outspoken label expert repeatedly underlined that the success of Modern Enterprises is the story of strong brother-sister bondage. His lips slip down with words of praise for his professor turned entrepreneur sister Shaheda. He humbly says his sister equally shares the credit for the success since she looks after marketing operations.

Kachwalla is an entrepreneur with modern outlook in label printing. The passion for creativity drew him into printing business. After undergoing specialized training in printing and packaging technology in Japan, back home, he did not waste any time and set up the unit with a high speed plant with attachment of slitting and packaging.

The globetrotting entre-preneur, Kachwalla has now acquired plenty of knowledge and learnt several ‘Modern’ techniques in labels printing. In the process he got groomed as an expert and consultant in the field. So, naturally, he has been invited to participate at many international trade fairs and conferences to deliver technical talks, especially on automation in labels printing.

At 60+ emerges strong when he talks about labels. “My dear friend, there’s more than just printing in a printer’s life,” he alerts me during the hour long interview.

So let us read some gyan from the expert:

What is trend in labels/stickers in terms of technology?

‘Label’ or ‘sticker’ printing today is as vast as the ‘printing’ industry itself. Its applications are continually becoming more diverse, involving more processes and materials, and requiring more in the way of technologically applied solutions. Labels that were once the preserve of paper are now printed on card, metalized papers, films, metals, fabrics, synthetic papers, rubber and many types of plastic.

When we started off, the Indian label market was price conscious. Now, the market wants appealing designs, more security features and quality labels. So, today it is easy to produce cheap (pricewise) and poor quality labels; but it is more difficult to make high quality label at low price.

Also, label printing market is growingly witnessing onset of hybrid printing presses than the one which is limited only to printing a specific label through a particular printing process. Flexibility (universal use of presses), therefore, is the buzz word in the narrow web label printing space.

Also, from one or two print processes, label technology has moved to the stage where almost every technique merits a place - from letterpress to offset, from flexo to UV flexo including screen printing and hot foil stamping. The trend of the combo-press where more than one print process is utilized has come about because converters realize that each process has a something to offer in the production of high quality labels with value addition and that is why we are thinking of incorporating screen printing in our production.

Also, I may add here that although there is good awareness and demand for barcoding, RFID has not made a big start in India, however the future is bright.

On label market:

All industries are consuming large quantity of labels. The potential market for labels and stickers in India is in several crores of rupees, hence there is a bright future in India for label manufacturers. But one has to stick to modernization coupled with innovative ideas and a capability to deliver at speed. Indian manufacturers are doing well and at par with world market in terms of quality, delivery and service.

His sticking strategy:

When I ventured into printing labels my objective was to make my clients aware of the new developments and our capabilities and capacity and advice and guide them about the advantages of using self adhesive labels for various applications such as product labels for shelf appeal, quality control labels, security labels, etc.

Now, my objectives are to give clients what they desire and help them to make a correct choice from the various materials and products that we can offer. Customer satisfaction has been our prime objective for over three decades.

Offering innovative and quality labels incorporating special effects, through screen printing, will be our future strategy since the future of label market is extremely bright with so many foreign companies and collaborations taking place in India. We want to make the best use of modern technology and thereby give our customers little more than what they expect in terms of quality, price. Total customer satisfaction would be our strategy to stay ahead of others.

‘Sticking’ to quality:

We can’t afford to do any mistake as whole lot can be rejected, leading to wastage and economic loss. So, we are strong in quality policy. We check the raw material as per the laid down parameters. We study different types of adhesives, application/surface, specific ink for specific substrate for specific application. Both input and output at our plant goes through strict quality control checks like we check the grammage (GSM) of material, GSM of coating release value peal strength etc and we also keep in mind that the end users’ requirement and application. Our reputation in the market, I could say from the laurels received from our customers is fairly good and having customers with 30 years relationship speaks volumes of our reputation.

On success:

I took the initial training at Iwasaki and then did internship in few leading presses in Japan in 1978-79. Honesty, hard work, sincerity and dedication are the most cherished values that we have been following and these values are the secret behind our success. My company’s slogan is ‘If you have a sticky problem. We have a sticky answer.’

His advice to new label printers:

Give new ideas to customers in terms of purpose of label and sticker (eg. security label, use and throw label, shelf label, etc), understand their requirements technically. If you guide them thoroughly, the very purpose of the label or sticker will be served in a meaningful manner.

Author Shripada Bhat can be accessed at: shripadabhat@ gmail.com

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